Movie Review – Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this review are solely those of Marlon Wallace and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of WBOC.
It might not seem like it from the marketing and on the face of it, but this film is a gay film or a LGBTQ film of some sort. At least, there’s a gay or queer interpretation of this film that is stronger than the one made about the recent Luca (2021). The case could be better made here than in that Pixar film that was released almost exclusively online. It’s been noted that big-budget or blockbuster films have been incorporating gay or queer characters over the past few years. Frustratingly, those characters being able to express their same-sex attraction or gender non-conforming has been mostly a “blink and you miss it” kind of thing or a thing that could be easily dismissed or edited out. It perhaps could be dismissed here, but I feel like director Andy Serkis and screenwriter Kelly Marcel at times hit us over the head with queer overtures.
Tom Hardy (The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road) stars as Eddie Brock, a journalist who worked in TV news, living in San Francisco. Yes, there are plenty of straight people in San Francisco, but what better place to have a same-sex love story? Eddie did have a female fiancée but they broke up. He doesn’t seem to have any other family or much of any friends. He does drive a motorcycle and has a pretty cool bachelor pad. His life is changed when his body is infected with an alien life-form that calls itself Venom, which played out in the 2018 film. This sequel picks up not that long after where that 2018 flick ended. Eddie is continuing to live his life with this alien inside of him.
It’s not quite sure what the gender is of Venom or if Venom has any gender or sex at all. When we hear Venom speak, Venom sounds male. Venom has the ability to jump into the body of any person, male or female. This film shows that Venom can spawn but in this film, that spawn refers to Venom as “father,” which again suggests that even when Venom is inside a female body that he’s essentially male. As proved in the 2018 film, Venom is capable of feeling emotions, even love. This film goes further and by the end, Venom is declaring his love, specifically his love for Eddie. Some can call it platonic or a brotherly kind of love. However, this film has other references that would make me question, if the love is more romantic.
Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman and My Week With Marilyn) co-stars as Anne Weying, a lawyer and the former fiancée of Eddie. One would think that she’s set-up to be the love interest here. Given that this film is made by the same company that has the rights to Spider-Man, one would think that Anne is set-up to be the “Mary Jane” or MJ for Eddie, but she’s not. As the film goes along, it becomes clear that while Eddie loves her and she cares for him, they are not going to end up together. In the Spider-Man films, there’s always some hope that Spider-Man and MJ will end up with one another. That isn’t the case for Eddie and Anne. She’s moved on, but it’s a question of whether or not, Eddie can move on.
I’m not trying to make the argument that Eddie is bisexual, pansexual or even fluid, but the way that things end up, one could question it. However, it seems no question that Venom is fluid, literally fluid. There is a scene in the film where Venom virtually says he’s coming out of the closet. Until then, he expresses frustration over not having to be himself. Yes, thematically, that frustration could be a metaphor for all kinds of people who aren’t LGBTQ.
Plot-wise, there isn’t much that is different from the first film. There’s some stuff with a villain named Cletus Kasady, played by Woody Harrelson, doing his thing from Natural Born Killers (1994), along with Cletus’ love interest, Frances Barrison, played by Naomie Harris (Moonlight and Skyfall), but all of that is just filler, quite frankly. The crux here involves Cletus and Frances using Anne as a damsel-in-distress. However, the realization is of Eddie and Venom saying that they belong together. They’re symbiotic. They’re bonded in a way that no one else is. Venom even makes Eddie breakfast. They decide to run off and live the rest of their lives together. If that’s not gay, I don’t know what is.
Rated PG-13 for violence, action, disturbing material, some strong language and references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 37 mins.